Youngstown city feeling crunch of worker shortage

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (WKBN) – Like other businesses and cities nationwide, the city of Youngstown has been taking some hits when it comes to losing employees.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis proportion, but it’s getting real close,” said Jeff Limbian, city law director.

So far this year, the city of Youngstown has lost at least 34 employees. Some of which have left for retirement and some have resigned. 

Last year, the city lost a total of 35 employees and in 2019, 43 employees either quit, retired or were terminated. 

One department that is affected greatly when it loses employees is the police department.

“Currently we’re at the lowest manpower we’ve been in recordable history,” said Lieutenant Brian Butler, Youngstown Police Department staff inspector.

Butler says getting new recruits to join the police department has been difficult for the past few years. 

“We’ve seen a 75% reduction in police applicants in the past five years. That is very disheartening,” Butler said.

Butler says the police department has been in talks for the past couple weeks about raising the starting wage for police officers. He says that should be happening soon.

He also says there is a program that Youngstown offers that will pay for the police academy for new hires. He hopes this will be a great incentive to bring new officers on board.

The city’s law department is also down two deputy law directors and one prosecutor.

“I understand it’s a national epidemic, but it’s hitting very close to home here. And until we pay people what their value is to us, they’re not gonna stay,” Limbian said. 

Limbian says that many of the employees leaving are leaving to find higher-paying jobs. He also says that the budget for each department is voted on by City Council.

But councilwoman Samantha Turner says they do not actually create the budget. She says it’s up to each department head to meet with the finance director and the mayor to come up with a budget that will fit the needs of their department, then present it to council for a vote.

“When it comes to employees and wages, we assume that the department head has spoken to the mayor and the finance director and said these are the needs of my department, as far as positions as wages and it is now included in this budget,” Turner said.

She does agree that in order to retain employees, the city must work together to pay competitive wages.

“I do think that this current administration sees that and is trying to help us get where we’re going, but our department heads need to come to council and let us know the problems that they’re facing and what they need. And as a council, we need to make an informed quality decision to improve the wages for each of our employees,” Turner said.

In the past 3 years, the city has hired 50 new employees for permanent positions, but of those 50, 11 are no longer with the city.

We’re told along with department heads, the mayor of Youngstown also has hiring authority. We reached out to Mayor Tito Brown several times but haven’t heard back from him.

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